Northwind Imperial Stout | Two Brothers Brewing Company

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85
very good
411 Reviews
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Northwind Imperial StoutNorthwind Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Two Brothers Brewing Company
Illinois, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.10%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Dark delights like this were once shipped to the imperial court of Russia. With a firm, roasty maltiness balanced against a generous helping of hops, Northwind can stand up to the worst its namesake can dish out! Enjoy it by a roaring fire.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-14-2002

BEER STATS
Reviews:
411
Ratings:
930
Avg:
3.77
pDev:
18.04%
 
 
Wants:
29
Gots:
84
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 411 | Ratings: 930
Photo of Indybeer
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle. Poured a pitch black with a decent head that didn't stick around long. Some lacing left behind on the glass. Aroma is chocolate and roasted malt, with a heavy dose of espresso thrown in. For style this is pretty muted as an imperial stout, but I still find it very good and enjoyable. The taste has the roasted malt and coffee, but in a subdued way that makes it a very drinkable beer. Got to see what this thing is like after some more aging.

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Photo of Dotcubed
3.86/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a modest topping of coco colored foam for a year old bottle. bottle marked Lot 3178

Smells pretty inviting, roasted malt.
Dark black color. Creamy, dry.

Warming but not hot like I thought it may be with such high alcohol.
Hints of salty black licorice? Need more of these.

Very substantial offering. I'd like six for this time next year.

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Photo of Schmittymack
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into the trusty shaker glass; served nearly room temperature. Poured a nice dark black color with a creamy brownish head. Aromas of coffee, dark chocolate, and roasted malt. Taste was wonderful malt, coffee, dark chocolate and no hop bitterness in the end. I'm glad I still have a few bottles of this left; will be nice to have after a day on the slopes next ski season. Best brew I had in the evening Friday, the 27th.

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Photo of dmfrench
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A sweet then dry, chocolate then hoppy, and somewhat thin Stout

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A: Opaque black body with the faintest ruby highlights, revealed only when held to a light; one finger somewhat persistent khaki head that leaves adequate lacing.

S: Big baker's chocolate up front with coffee, brown sugar, and just a hint of dark fruit and dry hoppiness. Not particularly aromatic or unique, but pleasant.

T: Surprisingly on the dry side... semisweet chocolate, brown sugar, and coffee come up front, but quickly fade into burnt, dry, bitter tones.

M: Creamy at first taste, but quickly becomes drying... a bit on the thin side.

D: Leaves an impression of weakness.

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Photo of drewba
4.38/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - The way this pours is the quintessential imperial stout "look". Opaque black with ruby and purple tints around the edge of the glass. Two finger mocha head that is fluffy and full. Head falls to a thin yet bubbly mocha film with some pretty serious lacing.

S - The aroma is bold and really stands out. Huge dark chocolate and coffee with some honey and smoke nuance.

T - The chocolate and smoke are really coming forward in the taste. Whereas the chocolate hits right away and stays for the middle of the taste, the smoke is still highly apparent in the finish and aftertaste, unlike the chocolate. Coffee, and the tiniest amount of dark fruit are backing up the chocolate and there is a fair amount of sweet, honey perhaps. The sweetness does remind me a little bit of lactose sugar in a milk stout, but I don't see anything on the label to think that it was made with lactose sugar. The hops are definitely in the finish and add a small lemon tinge and a small level of bitterness. I'd have given it a 5/5, but the smoke is a little too pronounced for me. Admittedly, I'm not a fan of smoke...

M - a bit too thin, but somehow feels syrupy. It isn't that viscous, but somehow stays in your mouth. Carbonation is silky smooth, spot on.

D - Again, the smoke stays with you well into the aftertaste, which knocks down the drinkability for me, but this is a highly tasty beer that I will drink that will be consumed back to back. Also, I'm not sure how this is 9% abv, it's hidden like a boss.

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Photo of SerialHiker
4.22/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours the darkest brown to black…a pinky finger of dark mocha head formed and remained…looks a bit watery, the head swirls around faster than normal and thins a little quicker than I woulda liked…(3.5/5)

Smell: Roasted malts, oatmeal, chocolate, coffee, lactose…a very nice aroma, fairly straight forward…with deeper inspection, I get a hint of citrus…not overly pungent or diverse, but nice…(4/5)

Taste: Deep roasted malts, chocolate, oatmeal, very much like the nose…I don’t get as strong of a milk flavor as the nose had, but it does have a creaminess to it…roasted coffee and coffee bitterness stand out and really become the dominant flavors as the beer warms…there’s some sweet candy toffee taste that is very mild, but apparent…I do get a light citrus freshness with each sip after I swallow that rounds everything off…this is a somewhat robust imperial stout and is definitely the best quality of this brew…(4.5/5)

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, light to medium carbonation…it does fluff up a bit, bringing some chocolate milkshake to the palate, but it’s super thin and wears out quickly…it’s a little watery for what I would expect and that is this brew’s flaw…roasted malt, oatmeal and coffee bitterness in the after taste…(3.5/5)

Overall: This is maybe my favorite Two Brothers beer, I seek it out when I come to Chicago during the winter months and take some home with me to share…the flavor is robust and very tasty, but unfortunately it’s a bit watery and that rushes the mouthfeel away…I do find that after 15 minutes out of the fridge, the coffee aroma and flavor awake, taking the flavor to another level…in the future, I’ll set the bottle aside a few minutes before opening…while all it’s components may not be “world class”, the flavor is outstanding, making this one of my favorite stouts...overall, I couldn’t recommend this brew more, if you see it at the store (or me with one), give it a try…(4.5/5)

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Photo of --Dom--
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Even with a good hard pour, not much head. Less than 1 finger, brown, dissipates quickly. I'm less interested in that than the taste thought, this beer tastes great. Pours a dark brown, nearly black. This is a thick beer.

Smells of roasted malt, slightly burnt aroma, slight coffee aroma as well.

For me, the mouthfeel of this beer is perfect. It doesn't feel too heavy, or too carbonated. Pretty much spot on. Every flavor is there in balance. I taste the roasted malts, hint of coffee, hint of chocolate. Just sweet enough, not too sweet. You really wouldn't guess the high gravity unless you already knew. The alcohol rides along the palate with all the other flavors very well. The finish is great, no biting aftertaste of any kind.

This beer is very strong, but very drinkable. I could definitely have 2 in a night. It isn't perfect, but it's close. I do not consider myself a stout guy, but I really do like this beer a lot. It isn't perfect but it is very good. Well done once again Two Brothers. Well done.

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Photo of mmcave
3.18/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Purchased at Sams and cracked at a time when I was. Chilled a little under cellar and then thrown under warm water to expedite the process. Used a tumbler, the color is dark coffee black, with half inch tan nougat color head, with expectable lacing. Smells slight fruit esters which I did not expect in a RIS, but this is not necessarily unwelcome. There is some toffee, coffee, grape-ness. The taste is decent, but I feel like its lacking in several key areas namely strength, body and focus. Where I was expecting these things I got a couple other interesting things like some fruit and maybe some extra chocolate or coffee than usual, but these things to me do not make up the lack of the other stuff. This is not a bad RIS, but after tasting the good stuff "storm king", stuff like this is far less tasty. I for sure will not buy this again, but if it comes to you for free try it and you'll better understand the good stuff.

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Photo of scott
4.45/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

V.06
When I initially had this, it hadn't reached the market yet, and I couldn't wait for it to get there. This a highly recommended offering. A smooth and well-balanced drinker, this maintains a nice coffee/chocolate backbone with nice notes of vanilla & oak. Dark and heady. I can sum this up with one word. Excellent. Pricey, though.

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Photo of GIVEMEBACKMYSON
3.82/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

On the pour this produces a moderately sized, quite dark brown head. The head does not last long at all before it completely vanishes. This is bordering on black, but not quite.
The aroma brings back two memories: Little Debbie fudge brownies, and gas station coffee that's been on the burner for hours.
THis initially hits my tongue with a cocoa sweet chocolate flavor. This soon puts on the left turn signal and merges in with dark, bitter chocolate, which has the right-of-way. Then a robust coffee flavor shows up. Reminds me of some jamaican coffee a couple honeymooners brought me as a souvenir once. Blue Mountain? I like. At the end there is a slight sugary glance. When I swallow this, though, is when i taste some rust, some lime, and some non-oxidized metallic component. Kind of bizarre, but it doesn't destroy the experience. Doesn't help, but i can get over it.
This is a little bit empty in the mouth. By that, I mean that it doesn't have the CO2, grit, and viscosity that I look for in an imperial stout. At times this seems wet and watery, but not watered down.
This is a pretty good beer overall, with a couple things that could be improved upon to make it kick ass.
For me it just barely fits in the imperial stout category. If it were classified as an American stout, the scores'd be a bit higher.

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Photo of codsmith
4.17/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours jet-black with a very slight amount of creamy tan head. Doesn't really lace the glass

S: Has a nice sweet coffee, chocolate & roasted malt aroma. Very smooth and well balanced.

T: The taste is a lot like the aroma. Very smooth and creamy on the palette. There is a slight amount of roasted bitterness hitting at the end. Very well balanced

M: Moderate mouthfeel, carbonation is in the correct level.

O: My favorite Two Brothers beer and I've had it all ways (cask, draft & bottle), but always a very good and well balanced imperial stout.

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle, lot # 0155. Pours very dark brown, with a khaki head that doesn't stick around long. Aroma of coffee, with a some chocolate and a bit of booze. Medium body. Some malt, sweetness, and perhaps a bit of hops in the flavor. Russian imperial stouts are perhaps my favorite style; this one does nothing to stand out from the others, but it does seem to be well balanced. And, as this is one of the least expensive Russian imperial stouts I have found, it's not a bad beer for the price. I hope to buy a few more to cellar and see how it is with another year or two on it.

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Photo of zjungleist
3.2/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nearly black in color, slightly brown, but poured almost zero head. The smell is basically burnt, but it's hard to tell since it is so very faint. The flavor proved to be more of an eye opener, with some fairly intense burnt malt flavors, but that's about all. Not much coffee, chocolate, but those flavors grow as I drink. The hops are there in the background, but nothing to write home about. The mouth feel is pretty thin, thinner than I expected. The carbonation is low, but it cuts through the thin beer like a knife. At least it's not syrupy. The 8.5% (as listed on my bottle) is masked well, though. Unfortunately, I am just not all that impressed with this beer, and as I recall, I was not impressed by my last one from Two Brothers. It seems like they cut too many corners to achieve the style.

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Photo of joekfsu
3.86/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle. Pours black, nearly opaque. Almost no head, beige, quickly diminishing. Light fruity aroma, maybe cherry or cranberry. Malt flavor up front, ends on bitter chocolate. Light aftertaste of bitter chocolate. Light to medium body, almost no carbonation. Alcohol hidden well. Very drinkable, but more so for the imperial stout drinker than others.

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Photo of Willytee3
3.94/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark chocolate black with a touch of red highlight. A thin mocca color head emerges and builds slowly after the pour. Nice thick ring forms with bubbly island film and spotty lace.
Smells of coco chocolate malts with a touch of dry oak and cheese.
Tastes of rich roasted malts with a barley a touch of stovepipe and good malted sweetness. Balanced by a nice hop bitter and hint of anise. A bit of lemon rind and espresso with a bitter chocolate finish.
Nice full body with good palate coating flavors, a bit thin on carbonation.
Overall a tad sweet and chocolaty balanced by a nice hop bitter but is still a tad sweet for me.
A very nice imperial with almost no alcohol showing.

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Photo of schellsbeer
4.55/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Side note....a crazy beer store in town is selling this stuff for 6.49 a 6 pack. I have 2 1/2 cases of this aging. Man...are they dumb.

After taking a break from reviewing, I decided that it was time again and what a beer to start with.

Two Brothers Brewing is quickly becoming one of my favorites. These two guys do things right....period.

I love a thick stout and this one didn't disappoint. It has everything a top notch stout should have.

A - Black as fricking night. Very impressive! Oil and thick. Excellent.

S - Very good. Upon warming, the burnt malt and coffee notes become more evident.

T - One of the best stouts I have had. Period. Excellent. Burnt. Bitter. Thick. Caramel. Chocolate. Yeah....this is a guy stout and not one for babies. WOW.

M - Thick and delicious. Like maple syrup or molasses. Oil on the tongue. Wonderful....I could drink these all day.

D - High compared to other RIS because it only has 7.5% alcohol. Much lower than most RIS out there. Top Notch stout. I WILL be purchasing more of these.

Thanks guys...I am becoming a big fan.

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Photo of bearrunner44
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- As black as midnight. A hard pour produced about a centimeter of creamy, caramel-colored foam. The retention is good; a faint ring of head remained throughout consumption.

Smell- Rich, sweet malt aroma backed by a touch of grassy hops. Roasted cocoa beans. Alcohol scents float inconspicuously underneath it all.

Taste & Mouthfeel- Smooth and fairly rich; the smoothness is oatmeal-like. Carbonation is appropriately subdued. The malt flavor is sweet, milky, and caramel-like at first, almost cloyingly so. It becomes more dry towards the finish, though. The hops also become more prominent. They're leafy and herbal, and the overall taste of the finish is earthy and slightly bitter. The alcohol is hidden pretty well; it tastes like a 5-6.00 ABV, not 7.5.

Verdict- The richness and body you would expect from an Imperial stout is here, even if it's not the most complex one on the market.

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Photo of bowersdm
3.92/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - amazing. It was the typical color or an RIS with just a tiny hint of ruby on the fringes when held in front of a light with a stiff, slowly fading 2.5cm head.

S - dark chocolate (or maybe semi-sweet) and roasted barley. There may have been something else going on here, but i have a sinus infection, so my smell is slightly off.

T - okay, it's definitely dark chocolate followed by a small hop flavor. After a few drinks, a coffee taste is noticeable, as well as a smokiness or burnt barley flavor.

M - perfect carbonation. It's thick and really, really creamy. It's probably the best mouthfeel/texture I've ever had in a bottled RIS.

D - Pretty good. The abv is low and beer isn't quite as filling as other RISs.

Eh, this is a pretty good RIS. If you're new to the style, I'd recommend trying it just so you can prep yourself for the flavor overload of other RISs. It's one to try, but I'm not crazy about it.

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Photo of shanblur
3.22/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. No date present on the bottle.

A - Pours opaque black with a minimal tan head which fades quickly to a minimal ring with very light lacing.

S - Roasted malts predominate with muted chocolate and coffee aromas

T - Roasted malts with a hint of smoke. A nice chocolate and espresso flavor as well. Minimal hop presence detected on the finish.

M - Dense with a light carbonation

This is a nice beer. I have had both better and worse. I would not go out of my way to have another one.

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Photo of diabecktic
3.91/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance:
Despite a hard, controlled pour, this beer literally exploded all over me; there were easily ~4 fingers of head which kept flowing over the lip of the glass into which I poured it. After a while, the thick, foamy light-brown head settled at ~2 fingers. The beer itself is almost pitch black, but it's really more of a ruby-dark brown mix. Lacing is excellent.

Smell:
The major notes of the nose are a heavily roasted malt and smoked chocolate. Overall, it's kind of an "earthy" scent.

Taste:
I find this beer fairly sweet, but not directly on account of the chocolate. The notes of barley and chocolate are heavily roasted/smoked, but the flavor still seems rather sugary. Sweetness isn't particularly overpowering, as it resembles something which might be found in a dark fruit (plum, perhaps). I detect minimal hopiness, so there isn't too much bitterness of which to speak.

Mouthfeel:
This is a very thick beer, so I assume that a copious amount of sugar was present in the malt. As such, I rate the body as heavy. At 9.1% the alcohol is well hidden, but it seems to dry out my mouth towards the end of each sip (though only ever-so-slightly). This is definitely a beer which you want to consume slowly.

Overall:
I can't speak much to the complexity or balance of this beer. Personally, I find it a bit sweet for my liking, but I do enjoy the presence of the "darker" sweetness. The characteristic smokiness is also present, but it's not too overpowering. I have a feeling that this style is really more of an acquired taste; however, this shouldn't stop you from trying it.

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Photo of waldowin
3.03/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours an inky black, but thin. The decent dark brown head forms quickly, and fades almost as quickly.

Smells of coffee and figs, pretty simple but not unpleasant.

Taste is of roast, coffee, and a hint of figs. Not very strong, but the alcohol is nonexistant in the taste.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin for what I expected, and slightly acidic. Not a very smooth drinker.

The harsh flavors and the thin body, combined with the higher ABV of this beer means one bottle is almost more than I'd want.

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Photo of manahansf
3.98/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque black with ruby red highlights. Topped with a thin creamy brown tan head which has great retention and sticks to the top of the brew and the glass. Warming sherry like arioma with subtle hints of fresh dark fruits. Sweet malty drink with a vinous quality and sweet fruity flavor. The finish is slow and lingers a bit too long. A little bit of cloying sweetness lingers with a soft warming sensation.

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Photo of faernt
3.58/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I bought this as part of a trade. I drink Imperial Stouts often and all year so another to the collecton is always welcome. I lost Old Rasputin for a year over distribution issues and am always on the lookout for a worthy Imperial.

Northwind looks like an Imperial when it's poured. It's dark and somewhat oily as it goes into the glass. It smells brown (mostly coffee). The taste is pleasant but not surprising. I ask myself if I'd had too many Imperial Stouts (no). I ask myself when was the last time I'd been surprised by an Imperial Stout (a few months ago with some 2002 Rogue). This one just isn't surprising. It tastes more like an Irish Stout with a little attitude. It's a little dry and the flavor is not that complex. It's actually a good one flavor (two....a little sweet dark chocolate) beer but not the beguilingly complex brew I look for in this style. Second thought leads me to compare it more to an Oatmeal Stout than to a dry Irish Stout.

I find this to be a food beer more than a beer I'll drink alone. I'll drink it with Chorizo flavored fajitas and Chicken Mole. It's a good beer but not to my expectation of style.

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Photo of crayphish
3.97/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The brew pours a light canceling jet black liquid. Liquid is notably thick with a thin dark beige head. Nominal lacing. Smell is roasted malts with coffee and chocolate making their presence known. Some tartness is noted. Taste is chocolate coffee with a sweet raisin note over a faint hop bitterness. Not overly complex, but extremely balanced. Mouthfeel is fairly full due to the thickness of the beer. Does not finish as clean as one would like. The heaviness of this beer hurts its drinkability. Though it was still enjoyable.

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Photo of negroobserver
2.9/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

North-Wind Imperial Stout
45 IBU, 9.1% ABV
12 oz Bottle

Poured into a large Brandy snifter.

A: Pours a dark brown, almost black color. Very small cream colored head, which dissipates quickly and leaves behind a thin foamy rim on the edge of the glass.

S: Smells smoky. Has a very mild malty and chocolatey aroma at the back end. A very faint sweet licorice or vanilla like aroma. No dominant scents here, but I like that the vanilla aroma is almost hidden. This is my third bottle and this is the first time I've noticed it. Interesting, but disappointing that the last few weren't at the same level as this bottle.

T: Mostly flat and tasteless. Dark roasted malts. There is a smoky chalky taste which lingers in the mouth. Slight sour and hoppy quality.

M: The beer has some depth, but not the kind of rich texture that you would expect from an Imperial class beer. It doesn't coat the glass or the mouth in the way that an Imperial Stout should. At best, it has the depth and texture of a standard stout. At 9.1% ABV, I can't smell or taste the alcohol in the beer, which makes me question the validity of the company's claims regarding the ABV content. Or it could be that this is one of the better crafted beers on the market in that respect. Who knows?

Overall, I had great hopes for this beer and was hoping that this was a rare exception to the pricy Imperial Stouts that one finds on the market. Sadly, I feel like I was duped by the company into buying an inferior product which appears to be very misleading in its claims.

VERY DISAPPOINTING, ESPECIALLY BECAUSE I ACTUALLY LIKE TWO BROTHERS' BEERS (NOT ALL, BUT SOME).

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Northwind Imperial Stout from Two Brothers Brewing Company
3.77 out of 5 based on 930 ratings.
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